Boating on the Lakes

Visitor Activities
& Entertainment


"Poland Spring offers more amusement and entertainment free of charge, for young and old, than any resort in America.  While we frequently hear the question, 'What does one do at Poland Spring?'   we never hear it from the guest after his arrival; so, we assume, it answers itself."
(Poland Spring House, 1912)

Relaxing on the Veranda
at Poland Spring, ca. 1900

(Detroit Photo Collection, # 012536)

On the Veranda
at Poland Spring, ca. 1910


Putting Green from the Porch,
Poland Spring House 

(postcard, postmarked Poland Spring, ME
August 7, 1939)

"The secret of making a great hotel like this popular, is to provide them with entertainment, especially something pleasant to do. The patrons of this hotel are given the best that money, care, and skill can provide. Perfect ventilation, sanitary drainage, expert plumbing, provocation to healthy exercise, boating, bowling, lawn tennis, music, dancing, a well-selected library, and, best of all, the marvelous water of the spring free to all, and freely sent into every room in the house."
(History of Poland, H.A. & G.W. Poole, 1890, pp 38-39)


"This was leisure in the genteel tradition, unhurried strolls along
landscaped paths bordered by elaborate flower beds, the quiet clicking of billiard balls on a rainy afternoon, the gentle somnolence of a
postprandial concert in the music hall."

"Outside there were 15,000 square feet of covered verandas, more than 1,000 acres of groomed grounds, shaded walks, rockeries, ferneries, floral designs, riding paths, and three lakes. Guests could contemplate a rustic view of forest and fields extending to the White Mountains in the west. A plaque on the hotel's porch pointed out Mount Washington, easily visible on a clear day."
(Down East Magazine, 1992)

"Each day at Poland Spring has its own peculiar charm, and to this ...list of things one does at Poland Spring may be added the enjoyment afforded by the beautiful park and countryside, rich in flora; the many well-laid walks and woodland paths, the pine grove facing the sunset and overlooking the distant White Mountains."
(Pamphlet - "The Poland Spring House", 1915)

Library in the Maine State Building
(Pamphlet, Mansion House, 1913)

Art & Literature 

"Another feature of limited pleasure to Poland Spring guests is the very extensive library and art exhibit in the Maine State Building. This library contains over six thousand volumes of standard, modern, classical, and reference works in addition to which a complete collection of all the best class of current periodicals are on file. The art collection is very extensive -- representative of the leading American artists."
(Pamphlet, Mansion House, ca. 1913)

Music Room at Poland Spring 
(postcard, postmarked South Poland, ME
August 26, 1911)
Another View, 1904

The August Kunz Orchestra
(The Hill-Top Magazine, July 15, 1916)

Music & Dancing 

"The music furnished at Poland is a source of genuine delight to the lovers of this divine art.  As usual, it will be furnished by Kuntz's Orchestral Club, composed of the leading members of Boston's famous Symphony Orchestra.  A great number of entertainers of the highest order of excellence also appears from time to time during the season."
(Poland Spring - America's Leading Spa, 1901)

"During the summer season, from June 1st to October 15th, when the
Poland Spring House is open, the latter because of its much greater size
and spacious halls, especially arranged for then purpose, is naturally the place selected for lectures, hops, morning concerts by members of the
Boston Symphony, and all general entertainments."

(Pamphlet, Mansion House, ca. 1913)

"Frequent and very delightful dances at the Poland Spring House give a piquancy to the life of this resort. They are enjoyed by old and young alike, by on-looker and participant, by visitor at the Mansion House as well as those at the larger hotel. No small part of the enjoyment derived from dancing at the Poland Spring House is due to the excellence of the August Kuntz Orchestra, which furnishes the music."
(The Hill-Top Magazine, July 15, 1916)

Poland Water Bottle Costume
for Employees - Masque Ball
Sept 2, 1929


Balls & Fetes

"Saturday evenings there was usually a ball, with Mr. Elkins from Philadelphia often leading the cotillion.  Music began to change about 1912, and requests came for more modern music.  That was when the Pavilion was built in the grove beyond the tennis court.  An orchestra was hired, and the younger guests could have their modern music and dancing there."
(Poland Spring Remembered - Recollections of Catherine Lewis Lennihan, 1988)


Fancy Dress Ball
in the Music Room
at the Poland Spring House

(Pamphlet - The Poland Spring House, 1915)

Evening Fete on the Lawn
Poland Spring House, ca. 1902

(Pamphlet - Poland Spring Maine, America's
Leading Spa, 1904)

Lawn Fete and Illumination
Poland Spring House, ca. 1909

(Postcard, postmarked Auburn, ME,
March 13, 1909)

Bathing & Boathouse
(built 1909)

(Postcard, ca. 1913)
Bass Fishing on the Lake
(Pamphlet, Mansion House, ca. 1913)

Aquatic Sports 

"Beyond, to the westward, is a chain of three lakes, the Range Lakes, about a mile distant. These lakes are well stocked with bass, and afford excellent sport. A boathouse, provided with a variety of small craft, and a good sand beach for those enjoying fresh-water bathing, furnish further opportunity for aquatic sports."
(Pamphlet, Mansion House, ca. 1913)

"Remarkable Lake Fishing - One feature of Poland Spring life which has not been emphasized half enough, is the excellent black bass fishing in the three lakes which curve about the base of Ricker Hill. Many hotel resorts in the state of Maine that lay great stress upon this sport, cannot boast of anything like the success which attends the effort of Poland Spring anglers. Mr. Geo. W. Elkins, of Elkins Park, and Mr. S. B. Stinson, opened the season on June 15th with a catch of ten bass weighing 14 pounds. During the spring before the season for bass opened, more than two hundred lake trout were taken from the lakes by Poland fishermen. Among the most successful anglers was Miss Marion Ricker of the Mansion House."
(The Hill-Top Magazine, July 5, 1914)

Shopping at Poland Spring
(The Hill-Top Magazine, July 15, 1916)

Indian Tents at Poland Spring
(Poland Spring Remembered - Recollections of Catherine Lewis Lennihan, 1988)

Shaker_Store_Sign.jpg (6895 bytes)
Shaker Store Sign, ca. 1910
Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village
New Gloucester, Maine


"In the Sales Room - Mr. Frank B. Jillson, well known among Poland Spring visitors, and Mr. Carl A. Schenk of New York, will be in charge of a noteworthy display of jewels in the exhibition room of the Poland Spring House, Jul 17-18, representing Pickslay & Company."
(The Hill-Top Magazine, July 15, 1916)

"The Old Town Indians...came each summer, pitching their tents just beyond the stable...The Indians lived in the rear tents, using the front ones to display and sell their lovely sweet grass baskets, blankets, and beaded moccasins."
(Poland Spring Remembered - Recollections of Catherine Lewis Lennihan, 1988)

"The [Shaker] Sisters came twice a week to the Poland Spring House, and once weekly to the mansion House.  Their ginger, candied orange peel, as well as their lovely baskets, were quickly bought by the guests, and those lady guests who came each year generally bought a Shaker cape as an evening wrap."
(Poland Spring Remembered - Recollections of Catherine Lewis Lennihan, 1988)

Read more about the relations between the
Shakers and the Ricker family of Poland Spring
at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village web site.

EmpireTheater_thumb.jpg (12681 bytes)
Empire Theater, Lewiston, Maine

Theater Advertisements
(The Hill-Top Magazine, July 15, 1916)

Theater & Moving Pictures 

"Amusements Easily Accessible to Visitors at Poland Spring - The Empire Theatre on Oak Street appeals to theatre-goers because the management always offers the best photo-plays on the market and at this season of the year the house is always cool and restful. Three splendid programs will be presented by the management for the week of July 17, when such brilliant stars as Robert Warwick, DeWolf Hopper, Mary McLaren, Frank Keenan and Enid Markey will be seen in some of the greatest screen productions of the year."
(The Hill-Top Magazine, July 15, 1916)

We beg to announce that we have succeeded in securing for Friday, September 5th, only 'FIRES OF FAITH'  starring Eugene O'Brien, Catherine Calvert, Ruby de Remer.   This picture was shown at the Harris Theatre in New York for three weeks and is undoughtedly the finest Screen Production of this Season."

(Poland Spring House Dinner Menu, September 5, 1919)

Tennis Courts at Poland Spring
(Pamphlet, Mansion House, ca. 1913)

Billiard Hall at Poland Spring
(Pamphlet, Poland Spring House, 1913)

Tennis, Bowling & Billiards 

"Poland Spring may boast of some of the finest tennis courts in the country. These are now in constant use. One or more tennis tournaments are a part of each season's program and good sport is in prospect for the devotees of this popular game."
(The Hill-Top Magazine, July 5, 1914)

"The tennis facilities at Poland Spring have kept pace with the increasing popularity of the game; the three clay courts are the best that can be built, and are maintained in first-class condition."
(Pamphlet, Poland Spring, 1917)

"In a separate building, are an extensive bowling alley and billiards hall."
(History of Poland, H.A. & G.W. Poole, 1890, p 34)

"The game of bagatelle is played all season for handsome prizes"
(Pamphlet, Poland Spring House, 1913)

Archery at Poland Spring
(Pamphlet, Poland Spring House, 1914)

Shooting Range at Poland Spring
(Pamphlet, Poland Spring House, 1914)

Amateur Baseball at Poland Spring
(Pamphlet, Poland Spring House, 1913)

Putting Green at Poland Spring 
(postcard, postmarked Lewiston, ME, Sept 1, 1911)

4th Hole Poland Spring Golf Course

Golf Rooms at Poland Spring
(Pamphlet, Poland Spring, 1917)


"For outdoor sports, golf is the universal game.   Our links are...reputed to be among the best in the country, and have the added attraction of being at the very doors of the hotel."
(Poland Spring House, 1912)

"Golf at Poland is an important feature of entertainment largely due to the high standard of the Links, which is said to be one of the best in the East. The use of the Links is gratuitous to all guests, and a competent instructor, caddies, etc., will always be found in attendance."
(Pamphlet, Mansion House, ca. 1913)

"...on no course can it be said that the wonders of golf are worked in purer air, more inspiring vision, or under pleasanter influences than on the hillside links at this resort."

"Mr. H. M. Forrest, well-known amateur golfer of Lakewood, N.J., spent a few days on the Poland Spring links early in the season. Other prominent golfers seen on the course in June were Mr. and Mrs. Gifford LeClear of Boston, W.A. Sandford, J. G. Day, and Tristram C. Colket, 2nd of Philadelphia."
(The Hill-Top Magazine, July 15, 1916)

"In the Spring of 1916 spacious and ideal golf rooms were added to the Poland Spring House.   Finished in red tile, fireproof, with reading and lounging rooms, lockers, shower baths, and well-equipped stock and repair room, the comfort and convenience of the golfer is fully provided for."
(Pamphlet, Poland Spring, 1917)

Golf at Poland Spring
(postcard, postmarked South Poland, ME
August 6, 1909)

Golf Card
Poland Spring Golf Club
ca. 1920

"In correct form"
Golf at Poland Spring

(Pamphlet, Poland Spring House, 1911)

Early Morning Ride to a
Picnic Breakfast


Stall Tag, Stables
Poland Spring House

Horseback Riding 

"Riding is s feature that has had much attention, and an excellent string of saddle horses, and a riding master from the staff of the Durland Academy of New York, are available during the season."
(Pamphlet, Poland Spring, 1917)

"In the Saddle - The arrival of the riding master, Mr. Caspar Weyher, from New York, with a string of horses from Durland's riding academy, inaugurates the season for equestrians at Poland Spring. For some weeks, however, Mr. and Mrs. Hugo Zeller of New York, who are staying at the Poland Spring House, have been in the saddle almost daily. The pleasant roads and by-ways in the vicinity of Ricker Hill, offer the greatest encouragement to those who enjoy the morning gallop on a spirited horse, and the usual number of enthusiasts are sure to be in the saddle soon."
(The Hill-Top Magazine, July 5, 1914)

Horseback Riding
at Poland Spring
(Hill-Top Magazine)

Horseback Riding
Through the Pines

Skiing - A popular sport
at Poland Spring
(Winter Season Poland Spring, 1920)

The Toboggan Run
at Poland Spring
(Winter Season Poland Spring, 1920)

Winter Activities

During the winter season, the Poland Spring House closed its doors. But the older and more intimate Mansion House remained open to visitors year round.  Later the Riccar Inn would also be open in winter providing between the two buildings accommodations for two hundred and fifty guests.  Meals were served in the Mansion House, and a sleigh was provided to transport guests between the two buildings. 

"Winter is the season of ringing sport and jollity in Maine, of invigorating cold without the house and traditional good cheer within. Rousing wood fires in the chimney corners of Mansion House and Riccar Inn, and throngs of frolicking guests enjoying themselves on skating rink, toboggan-slide, or frozen lake, these are but indexes of the manner in which Poland Spring greets the long winter season.  Golf gives way to hockey; motoring to the horse-drawn sleigh and its tuneful bells; skiing, snowshoeing, coasting, and no end of indoor pleasure, substitute themselves for the pastimes of summer.   Winter is not the dull season -- rather, it is the season of greatest sport, of freest enjoyment, in the land of health and vigor which is Maine."
(Winter Season Poland Spring, 1920)

Brian Harris